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Oral-Motor Activities

This relates to activities which develop muscle tone around the mouth. These activities can also be calming for the child who has difficulty regulating their behavioural responses. They can be useful for children that are having difficulty tolerating textures of foods and difficulty tolerating tooth brushing. Carrying out some of the activities below prior to the skill they find difficult may help.

Activities should be started at an achievable level and increased as the child finds success at an attainable target. Activities can be graded by increasing the length of time games are played or by making them harder, i.e. substitute tissue paper fishes with thicker paper fishes which have to be lifted by sucking on the straw.


1. Using whistles of varying shapes to make sounds
2. Blowing through party blowers that unwind as the child blows them up
3. Playing on hands and knees, or kneeling by a table top, blow balloons back and forth with a partner
4. Blowing cotton reels across the floor to a finishing point
5. Blowing shell boats across a table top 'pond'
6. Blowing ping pong balls around an obstacle course or tray
7. Using a straw, blowing blobs of paint across paper to form patterns
8. Using a straw, blowing into water with a small quantity of washing up liquid in, to froth the water into bubbles. N.B. Watch that blowing does not become sucking by mistake
9. Use a straw and a rolled up piece of paper to play 'blow football' across the table
10. Any small games which involve blowing that can be purchased commercially


1. Using straws to drink with. Thinner straws are harder as are thicker drinks like milkshakes.
2. Using a straw transfer large dried peas or chocolate buttons from one plate to another in a given time. Decrease the time. Use heavier items.
3. Using a straw, lift paper fish from a 'pool' into a 'net'. Start with thin paper.

Upgrade by:
a. Increasing the number of fish in a given time
b. Make the fishes from thicker paper
c. Use two different colours and ask for only one colour to be caugh
d. Mix the 'weight' of fish to be caught

1. Rhymes and stories which involve mouth movements to pucker the lips or blow as in blowing a candle out, etc.
2. Chewing and sucking on food. Crunchy foods e.g. carrots and apples provide the child with proprioceptive input which is calming and helps them develop awareness of movement and body position.
3. Making faces in the mirror – copying or playing 'Simon says'

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